Below is the abstract for “Central Bank Immunity, Sanctions, and Sovereign Wealth Funds,” available for download on SSRN.
Central bank assets held in foreign countries are entitled to immunity from execution under international law. Even as foreign sovereign immunity in general has become less absolute over time, the trend has been towards greater protection for foreign central bank assets. As countries expand their use of central banks, however, recent cases have limited immunity for certain kinds of sovereign wealth funds held by central banks. Sanctions on foreign central bank assets have also become more common, raising issues about the relationship between central bank immunity and the recognition of governments, the relationship between immunity and executive actions, and the denial of central bank immunity as a countermeasure.
This symposium essay explores recent developments in central bank immunity focusing on sovereign wealth fund litigation in Sweden, U.S. sanctions on Afghan central bank assets, and the global response to sanctions imposed on Russian central banks following the invasion of Ukraine. Some of these actions and cases do not and should not implicate foreign sovereign immunity. However, proposals to confiscate Russian central bank assets and U.S. litigation to turn Afghan central bank assets over to private plaintiffs, even if presented as countermeasures to secure reparations, would undermine significantly one of the increasingly rare areas of international economic law around which there is a global consensus: the immunity of foreign central banks from measures of execution.